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Want T-Mobile's Google Phone? Not in D.C.

T-Mobile's much anticipated G1 phone running on Google's Android software went on sale today across the nation -- except in the Washington region.

Here, you can walk into a T-Mobile retail store and play with a G1, the latest souped-up smart phone to hit the market. But you can't take one home. That's because Washington is one of the several markets around the country that don't have T-Mobile's 3G high-speed data network up and running yet.

So if they were to sell you the phone, it would work on its regular network but downloads of some Internet applications would ... run ...

something ...

like ...

this.

As of now, a Washington area resident can buy the G1 phone over the Web. And 3G will be deployed in the region on T-Mobile's network by late November. The company expects its 3G network will be deployed in 120 cities by the end of the year.

But if you bought one outside the region and try it here today, it'll take a little longer to download applications like Google Maps and Street Views, YouTube clips and other location based services such as local price comparison shopping.

So what's the big deal about 3G? It's faster and therefore provides a better experience for users, particularly with data-intensive Internet applications like video. AT&T announced today that 2.4 million subscribers bought new iPhones that run on its 3G network in the last quarter.

The reason why T-Mobile's 3G network has been delayed can be blamed on an unlikely source: the Defense Department along with other federal government agencies.

The federal agencies occupied the valuable spectrum T-Mobile bought for more than $4 billion two years ago to build out its 3G network. Since T-Mobile bought the spectrum, the Bellevue, Wash.-based company has had to force local governments and the federal government off the spectrum, market by market.

"This is first time we had to move federal government systems from spectrum," said Kathleen Ham, vice president of Federal regulatory affairs for T-Mobile. "They were not slow to move, but were surprised how fast we wanted to move."

By Cecilia Kang  |  October 22, 2008; 4:57 PM ET  | Category:  Cecilia Kang
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This is true, but the phone also has 802.11b/g support so if you're near an open access point (like many coffee shops and paneras), you will have regular internet speeds.

Posted by: M | October 23, 2008 7:25 AM

The 2G EDGE network is not that bad an experience - yes it's slower than 3G, but in my short experience with the phone, it's fine. I am looking forward to the 3G system when it is deployed next month...

Posted by: G1-user | October 23, 2008 10:16 AM

"Here, you can walk into a T-Mobile retail store and play with a G1, the latest souped-up smart phone to hit the market. But you can't take one home."

I thought you can buy one even if you were in a 3G market. This article states that you cannot even buy one. I have to hit my T-Mobile store to find out.

Posted by: Curious... | October 23, 2008 10:48 AM

"an unlikely source: the Defense Department along with other federal government agencies"

Actually it's not at all unlikely that bureaucratic sluggishness from DoD and other feds would slow down something that a business is trying to get done in a reasonable amount of time.

Sounds about right to me, sadly.

Posted by: mccxxiii | October 23, 2008 2:23 PM

Why would anyone in their right mind would buy a Google Phone when you can buy the best - iPhone for around the same price?
Google phone is plain ugly- I don't even want to touch it. Yuck!

Posted by: Troglodyte | October 23, 2008 9:33 PM

I've been thinking about the Android Insurgency and will it be Successful?

The nascent competition between the iPhone and the Android OS is reminiscent of the (eventually) lopsided battle between Apple and Microsoft in the 1980’s to be the dominant software platform for PCs.

Presently, Apple and Google appear to have entirely different philosophies regarding their smartphones: Apple tends to practice a form of digital dictatorship with their products while Google has decided on a path of open-source Android anarchy.

Will smartphones running Android fail against the iPhone, just as the Zune failed against the iPod? Will Android eventually be as common on mobile devices as Windows is currently on PCs?

The Case for Apple:
Like the old Macintosh computers, the iPhone bundles its hardware and software creating a product where for the iPhone’s hardware and software are tightly integrated, allowing for better working applications and a better experience.

Unlike the 1980’s, Apple holds a unique advantage with iTunes. Today, Apple could be considered a media conglomerate, controlling over 80% of the music download market. iTunes also allows users to store, sync, and manage their phone all in one application.

Currently, there is no equivalent desktop application for Android.

The Case for Google:
Android-based phones should be cheaper than the iPhone and like a PC running Windows, Google’s Android is able to function with a variety of parts, processors, and carriers.

Since Android is open-source, free linux-derived software, Google is betting that mobile device makers will embrace Android to save themselves the expense of developing their own software. Most importantly, Google is courting developers with lots of money.

Just as Windows has never had to equal Macs in usability or aesthetics, price is the main consideration of most consumers, allowing for a much bigger potential market.

Besides, it’s no coincidence Google’s first phone running Android looks eerily similar to the iPhone.

Who will Win?:
Even with Apple’s 10-million-unit head start, Google’s Android OS will likely begin to erode the market dominance of the iPhone. However, Apple will likely continue to control the high-end smartphone market; Android will probably do better in the mass market.

Android and iPhone will co-exist, competing in different market segments.

I blog about the iPhone at www.kennethkay.com

Posted by: matt31 | October 23, 2008 10:35 PM

I´m from Spain and in our country 3G works since more than one year and a half ago.
I really get surprised that large areas in U.S. aren´t yet conected.
After my experience in 3G I can say that´s really a great forward step in mobile comunications, fast data download, surfin´ web,etc. Makes life easier.
In the other side: The price you pay for it.
It´s easy to see that if you pay for the contents and/or the amount of data, your bill rises like foam.
And only one company gives you the service that means no competence, as we ´ve seen in Spain competence make prices low.

Posted by: DavidCaballol | October 24, 2008 8:09 PM

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